SRAM starting to kick off about thick/thin chainrings and Patent?

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  • SRAM starting to kick off about thick/thin chainrings and Patent?
  • Good luck making a chainring with an odd number of alternating thick/thin teeth

    I’ll get there yet 😆

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    It’s one of those awkward situations though… SRAM genuinely have done something cool and useful here, it’s the sort of thing you want to encourage and that’s what patents are for. So it’s hard to be against that.

    But at the same time, they’ve patented their idea then restricted the product delivery to a pretty silly level. So it’s not like these other produts are taking sales from SRAM, and by all accounts they haven’t tried to licence it either. I’d have bought a SRAM 10 speed single ring, for 104BCD, ages ago if such a thing existed but instead I had to wait til Works made one. So I find it hard to feel bad about that “infringement” Patents are supposed to protect the rights of the inventor, not to enable them to suppress a product entirely.

    Marmoset
    Member

    Jivehoneyjive -I’ve just patented an odd chain, it should work well with your chain rings when you get them sorted 😉

    Even getting hold of. 120bcd XO chainring was a bit of a hunt 2 months ago, there seems to be very little stock out there, and that’s something like 4-5 years after it was released….

    Premier Icon D0NK
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    it only applies to even numbered chainrings,

    didn’t sram patent the ratio 1:1.5? (so you can’t make 24/36 chainsets) the mind really does boggle at what you can patent – genes being an even more silly/scary one.

    Hardly fair to say they’r supressing a product. They brought out XX1, and will be bringing out X01 and lower also when ready – selling the rings on their own hurts sales of their groupsets, it’s up to them to market their products and intellectual property as they see fit.

    East for Works to jump in, they’re a small company with a CNC setup who just have to “take inspiration” from an existinf product, versus a giant who have to develop, test and supply enough product for global sales and OEMs. Wanting SRAM to hurry up a bit is fair enough, but it’s no justification for ripping their design off.

    (No axe to grind with Works myself, BTW – but I don’t think they can complain if SRAM stop them makign the rings)

    Premier Icon unklehomered
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    Jivehoneyjive -I’ve just patented an odd chain, it should work well with your chain rings when you get them sorted

    I’ve just thought how that could work, the downside being much less adjustsability in chainlength, multiples of five… Not sure the potential would really pay off…

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    honourablegeorge – Member

    Hardly fair to say they’r supressing a product. They brought out XX1, and will be bringing out X01 and lower also when ready – selling the rings on their own hurts sales of their groupsets

    XX1 came out well over a year ago, there’s been no meaningful progress since. The parts are still hard to find, expensive, and deliberately restricted in compatability- I can’t even buy an XX1 ring for my SRAM cranks.

    Selling rings on their own might well hurt their expensive groupset sales, that’s pretty much my entire point- and for the SRAM customer who’s already bought a groupset from them, that’s ****.

    Oh, and SRAM’s slowness to market is nothing to do with testing or volumes, they’re quite open about it, it’s because they want to ensure that anyone who wants 11-speed has to buy an expensive groupset. Which is fair enough, but it’s this decision that’s opened the market then failed to fill it.

    Premier Icon D0NK
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    Selling rings on their own might well hurt their expensive groupset sales

    well everyone’s chainsets are cheaper than the 2 or 3 rings to go on it*. Guess sram will get laughed at if they start selling a single ring for more than a chain set so have had to defer to more dodgy practices.

    *still can’t decide whether this is great value chainsets or profiteering on spares.

    They’re not alone in that misinformation – pretty sure Shimano claim only 10 speed Shimano Dyna-Sys chains work on their 10 speed kit.

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    The difference there is that they’re doing that to prevent people from using the rings with 9 and 10 speed, even though they work fine. So it’s not even that they’re not interested in making a product that’ll serve that market- they already do, they’re just telling everyone it doesn’t.

    Since the thick/thin chain ring design was already in existence (1979 patent), all SRAM can patent it the application of that existing idea to a bicycle chainring.

    As someone said on the last page, i would guess that lacks a suffient novel step for the Patent Examiners employed by the Governments patent office to approve it as a Patent, which is needed before Lawyers can start prosecuting people for infringing it, or defending against people who said it shouldn’t have been granted in the first place (something that undoubtedly favours big companies vs small ones).

    They have listed numerous “optional” ideas, such as the offset teeth (fig 10) so maybe they’ll start using those as non-optional if the patent fails.

    The “optional” bits do look quite novel and interesting, if of marginal benefit, but its not those that SRAM want to patent.

    I have a distinct lack of sympathy for SRAM when they act in the way they have. Simple word for it.. greed. They pitched a product with silly high demand
    a) At too high a price point/level
    b) As part of a full system you have to buy into (contributing to A)

    They went out of their way to pitch it at the highest level and then trickle it down gradually maximizing margin and hence profit. They probably would have made more money if they pitched it at “X9 level” and basically lowered the price. They would have made up for the lower margin in turnover.

    With this patent comes a company trying to become a monopoly for a product that is relatively simple and will be the future of all single ring chain rings. It’s huge if this goes through as SRAM could dictate the price for them forever more. But at what point does a patent become farcical? Apple trying to patent rounded corners for example. At what point can you say the design has actually been “copied”? How is this defined?

    The lesson here should be to give customers what they want as soon as possible at reasonable prices (not ridiculous ones). I mean how long have we been waiting for someone to come out with an increased ratio cassette that does not cost the same as XX1, and is not bespoke and locking you into company X’s products. Make products conform to the most common standards where possible and stop being greedy bar stewards. That way, we as MTB consumers can progress more quickly.

    coursemyhorse – Member
    I have a distinct lack of sympathy for SRAM when they act in the way they have. Simple word for it.. greed. They pitched a product with silly high demand
    a) At too high a price point/level
    b) As part of a full system you have to buy into (contributing to A)

    They went out of their way to pitch it at the highest level and then trickle it down gradually maximizing margin and hence profit. They probably would have made more money if they pitched it at “X9 level” and basically lowered the price. They would have made up for the lower margin in turnover.

    With this patent comes a company trying to become a monopoly for a product that is relatively simple and will be the future of all single ring chain rings. It’s huge if this goes through as SRAM could dictate the price for them forever more. But at what point does a patent become farcical? Apple trying to patent rounded corners for example. At what point can you say the design has actually been “copied”? How is this defined?

    The lesson here should be to give customers what they want as soon as possible at reasonable prices (not ridiculous ones). I mean how long have we been waiting for someone to come out with an increased ratio cassette that does not cost the same as XX1, and is not bespoke and locking you into company X’s products. Make products conform to the most common standards where possible and stop being greedy bar stewards. That way, we as MTB consumers can progress more quickly.

    If the demand is very high (and it certainly seems to be, since people can’t get hold of the cranks), then they’ve pitched it at the right price form their point of view – they’re selling out as fast as SRAM can make them.

    And yes, they’re trying to patent their idea – they’re entitled to, because they thought of it. Simple idea it may be, but it’s a clever one, and it works well. They’re entitled to use and profit from their own idea as they see fit. I think you can safely say the deign is being copied when Works admit as much in their sales blurb.

    The market is free for someone to come up with a new large cassette if they want to. SRAM did it their way.

    wobbliscott
    Member

    If you take patent protection away then where is the incentive for anyone or any company from investing in new innovation and new products? Why would any body or any company make the signficant investments in research and development and all that is required to bring a product to market only for others to swoop in and copy the design and knock off cheaper copies without having to make the same investments in R&D. Whether or not this is a novel idea or an idea that has been knocking around for a few decades, it is SRAM who has taken the initiative, taken the risk, made the investment and brought the product to market, and they quite rightly expect to profit from that design exclusively for a period of time.

    Though in this case it seems they should have really got the patent situation sorted out before launching the product. This seems to be a case of closing the door after the horse has bolted.

    acehtn
    Member

    Spesh have a patent on the word “epic” ? nuts.

    Then again i remember when Cannondale tried to patent the term and useage of “Freeride”
    Think it was Rocky mountain that counter attacked with putting all there team riders in afro wigs, doing some mad freeride stuff for a photo shoot and team “Fro-riders” was born 🙂
    Cannondale never got the patent, and i have a lasting memory of Bret Tippee (most likely spelt wrong or even wrong name) doing jumps and things in a big afro wig, gotta love the bike industry 🙂

    Premier Icon gary
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    Spesh have a patent on the word “epic” ? nuts.

    Trademark, not patent. Though still fairly nuts.

    Premier Icon fathomer
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    Genuine question, did Sram not rip off Shimano’s clutch mechs?

    butterbean
    Member

    If the demand is very high (and it certainly seems to be, since people can’t get hold of the cranks), then they’ve pitched it at the right price form their point of view – they’re selling out as fast as SRAM can make them.

    Not actually the case, more to do with Fishers diabolical stock control and forecasting. Lots of shops that specialise in builds in that end of the market won’t carry stock anyway, because 10 minutes on Google an end user can buy a full groupset for less than a shop pays Fishers for the same items.

    There is plenty of XX1 stock about. Fishers are just their usual (in)effective self.

    Genuine question, did Sram not rip off Shimano’s clutch mechs?

    No, because the SRAM one doesn’t have a clutch per se.

    fathomer – Member
    Genuine question, did Sram not rip off Shimano’s clutch mechs?

    Certainly looks that way – dunno if the internals of the SRAM mech has the same type of friction clutch mechanism, it may well be sufficiently different, even though it serves the same purpose.

    Premier Icon fathomer
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    butterbean – Member
    No, because the SRAM one doesn’t have a clutch per se.

    Fair enough.

    Certainly looks that way – dunno if the internals of the SRAM mech has the same type of friction clutch mechanism, it may well be sufficiently different, even though it serves the same purpose.

    This is the point. At what point does SRAM’s clutch mech become different enough to not be a copy of Shimano’s one? A smaller design? A different shape? Different material? Or is it that all “clutch” mechs should be banned if there is a patent for them? If so, how do you define a clutch mech?

    Back to the chain ring, say I make a chain ring with a tooth profile that is different by mere mm’s, is this different enough? Is a tooth profile anything different to standard in breach of said patent?

    How would the world ever progress? Why has nobody patented the wheel?

    coursemyhorse – Member

    This is the point. At what point does SRAM’s clutch mech become different enough to not be a copy of Shimano’s one? A smaller design? A different shape? Different material? Or is it that all “clutch” mechs should be banned if there is a patent for them? If so, how do you define a clutch mech?

    That’s why we have patent lawyers. Shimano would probably have a point, but proving that SRAMs different mechanism is a rip off woul dbe very tricky.

    The alternating tooth pattern is the exactl same method of achieving the exact same result. Even with minor variations, it’s fairly clear.

    Premier Icon BillOddie
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    How is SRAM doing this with 11 speed chainguide less drivetrains any different from Shimano trickling down errr lets think…10 speed, icetech rotors, finned pads, dual release shifters, clutch mechs etc…

    You always get the trickle down effect from component manufacturers this is no different. And SRAM have trickled it down to XO “this year”, next year X9, then 2016 X7…I bet.

    If they feel they have a valid patent and it’s being infringed they are within their rights to set the lawyers on whoever is infringing.

    It’s not about being greedy it’s called being in business and sometimes the small guy (works, wolftooth, race face) are the small guy.

    Premier Icon BillOddie
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    sorry…I’ll finish that last statement.

    The small guy gets dicked!

    Looking at that 1979 US patent I don’t believe SRAM have a hope of patenting alternating wide/narrow teeth. They can patent other features but not that one.

    Even if they manage to get a US patent granted for the wide/narrow teeth I’m 99% certain that the UK patent office would not do the same because they’re far better at ensuring patents are legitimate.

    The small guy gets dicked!

    IIRC they have to go after every infringement in order to keep it valid. It’s not SRAM being vindictive of the “small guy”, if it were shimano they’d have to do the same. Otherwise when shimano bring one out they can just say works were already doing it too.

    Photoshop is similar, strictly speaking you can’t “photoshop something”, you can digitaly manipulate an image using adobe photoshop 7.0 (or whatever). By making that distinction that it’s a noun Adobe can retain the copyright on “Photoshop” without having to sue the whole world for using it as a verb.

    Premier Icon gary
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    Based on this page, that I don’t think has been posted above, SRAM are asserting that they have something that goes beyond the ’79 patent.

    http://www.bike-eu.com/Home/General/2013/5/SRAMs-X-Sync-Technology-Set-to-Open-for-Licensing-1245909W/

    “In the case of the X-Sync technology, we are well aware of a 1979 patent describing a sprocket for agricultural conveyer equipment and are confident that we will obtain enforceable patent rights over this reference”, announces SRAM.

    “Accordingly, competitors should consider whether their product is copying the agricultural conveyor sprocket or SRAM’s XX1 chainring with X-Sync technology.”

    wobbliscott
    Member

    Patents can be filed for the application of existing ideas and patents to other applications, so if the 79 patent is in reference to agricultural equipment only, then SRAM can file a patent for its use on bikes. That’s what Dyson did, applying existing industrial vortex filters to domestic vacuum cleaners.

    Premier Icon gary
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    Patents can be filed for the application of existing ideas and patents to other applications, so if the 79 patent is in reference to agricultural equipment only, then SRAM can file a patent for its use on bikes. That’s what Dyson did, applying existing industrial vortex filters to domestic vacuum cleaners

    I know, and the “this reference” terminology in the first paragraph implies that. But what is the case when the original patent has expired – does the IP become generic or can you patent the same idea in a different context – that would seem crazy, but not completely unlikely!

    The “or” in the second paragraph implies they think they have an additional claim which is likely to be an easier defence.

    Either way, mainly just good news for patent lawyers. My general understanding on patents is that generally they are a lot more tightly focussed on a very specific implementation than the patent holder would like people to believe. And then it comes down to who has the deepest pockets/biggest IP library. Either way the little guy is screwed.

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    BillOddie – Member

    How is SRAM doing this with 11 speed chainguide less drivetrains any different from Shimano trickling down errr lets think…10 speed, icetech rotors, finned pads, dual release shifters, clutch mechs etc…

    None of those things have the same impact tbh. But also, 10 speed, clutch mechs? Not Shimano exclusives!

    Premier Icon D0NK
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    At what point does SRAM’s clutch mech become different enough to not be a copy of Shimano’s one?

    at the point SRAM pay a very expensive lawyer enough to get really fussy ?

    http://www.sram.com/sram/mountain/technologies/x_sync_tm

    So its not just that its *wider*, its that its a sort of “+” shape to match the gap in the chain.

    Premier Icon BillOddie
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    None of those things have the same impact tbh.

    And your point is? Surely the higher the “impact” the more marketable it is hence the higher initial premium price. Also the higher “impact” is due to a patent that they are choosing to enforce.

    But also, 10 speed, clutch mechs? Not Shimano exclusives!

    Correct, but 10 speed isn’t subject to a Patent, and the Clutch that SRAM use isn’t a clutch ala Shimano. I was illustrating trickle down.

    If you had spent a lot of time and money developing an innovative product, why would you dump it into the lower end of the market?

    With the 1979 patent the teeth just had sloping slides and the chain was a lot wider relative to the thickness of the chains side-plates.


    SRAMs version…

    Premier Icon BillOddie
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    So narrow/wide is fine but narrow/wide and X shape is in breach of the patent?

    We’ll see what happens eh?

    At the moment everything is as clear as mud for everyone 😉

    We are not burying our head in the sand over this siuation and have taken steps to approach SRAM over the matter and seek advice regarding the relevance of a granted patent to us…But:

    A patent has not yet been grated – If patents are granted it is then a case of making a judgement as to if our chainring does infact violate one or more of the clames therein, again this is unclear at present.

    Long and short of it is that SRAM (as previously mentioned on Bike-Europe) will seek to license the design when legal judgements have been made and agreed upon.

    For now, we carry on as normal. IMO should patents exist; yes, as they protect hard work and investment, we moved into this product after being notified of the previous patent and have not directly copied any specific dimensions from a SRAM product, our thick / thin chainring is our previous tooth and ring design we had on file with the addition of an alternating tooth pattern. (I am sure Raceface would not have moved into a product line unless they believed it was safe to do so)

    So, we shall see how this all pans out, something that i am sure will take quite a while longer!

    Premier Icon D0NK
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    For now, we carry on as normal.

    can you get stung for backdated infringement?

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    BillOddie – Member

    And your point is? Surely the higher the “impact” the more marketable it is hence the higher initial premium price.

    Sure, but also the higher the negative impact on your customers if you refuse to service their demand, and so the less sympathy you get for withholding a valuable development from the people who’d eventually buy it.

    BillOddie – Member

    If you had spent a lot of time and money developing an innovative product, why would you dump it into the lower end of the market?

    Because pricing yourself out of contention and creating an alternative market while alienating your customers isn’t very clever- which is why SRAM are now running about trying to resolve their miscalculation with lawyers and a dubious patent. They’ve blown their main opportunity though, they could have owned the 1×10 market but instead they didn’t even enter it. And now they’re “protecting” the idea from competitors- but who protects it from them?

    Even if they’re able to rein in the copy market now, the genie’s out- we know a little company in England can make rings that do the same job for £35, so even less people will be happy spending £70 for a SRAM one.

    At the end of the day there are companies you buy from because you have no choice, and companies you choose to buy from.

    can you get stung for backdated infringement?

    As we are so unclear about the situation and future its impossible to answer that question as it would mean predicting SRAMS intentions – As they appear to wish to offer license in the event of granted patents who knows?

    Of course this only matters if the patents granted and if it is relevant to our chainring, and there is no answer to this question at the moment.

    For now it is all speculation.

    I’m possibly being a bit thick here but the gist seems to be that SRAM are applying for a patent on a product that already exists made by a number of different manufacturers.

    Shouldn’t they patent something before loads of people are making it?

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